Divided FCC Approves Broadband Privacy Rules

RELATED:Stakeholders Go Public With Broadband Privacy Comments

A deeply divided FCC voted Thursday (March 31) to approve proposed new rules for broadband customers' private information, like what sites they surf to.

The FCC is proposing that a consumer's information can't be used for anything but the marketing of network services without their affirmative approval.

Agency chairman Tom Wheeler said the one indisputable fact is that consumers should have the right to decide how their own information is used.

GOP Republicans called it an overreach that stems from the FCC's inadvisable reclassification of ISPs under Title II, which gave it the authority over broadband CPNI (customer proprietary network information), the proposed regulatory framework for which it voted on Thursday.

"My position on this issue is pretty simple," Republican commissioner Ajit Pai said. "Online consumers should and do have a uniform expectation of privacy. That expectation should be reflected in uniform regulation of all companies in the Internet ecosystem. That’s the model we had during a decade of FTC regulatory oversight; that’s the model that gave us an Internet economy that’s the envy of the world. Because the FCC rejects restoring this approach in favor of corporate favoritism, I dissent."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.